Monday, August 29, 2011

Miriam Freund - Life Interpreter

If an oleh (new immigrant) is truly fortunate then when he moves to Israel he finds someone here to help him interpret life and see him through the difficult times.
Interpret life- I don't mean interpreting what the newspapers report or what people say (although that can be part of it) , I mean interpreting the events around him (personal and national) and helping him make sense of them all. That Life Interpreter can enhance a person's Aliya and even rescue it in times of difficulty, which often happens.
I had a Life Interpreter for many years when I first arrived in Israel 19 years ago.
Her name was Miriam Freund.

I made Aliya straight to Efrat with a new born baby. My husband began a business, our children went off to school and I was left to start my life in some way too.
I wanted to take Ulpan, but when I called the teacher whose number I was given, he said, "No babies in my classroom." So I went Ulpanless until I heard of a local Ulpan class of sorts - it was twice a week for an hour, held in a caravan by the Russian olim, and run by a volunteer teacher Miriam Freund.
Miriam had been a math teacher and her husband a judge. They had lived in Bnei Brak, and when they retired, they moved to Efrat to help build the area where her husband's brother had given his life for the Jewish people.
Miriam's brother-in-law had been a soldier in Gush Etzion in 1948. He had fought and died here. Actually, I think he had been one of the Lamed Hei. In his memory the Freunds made the second part of their life here.
And build they did - but they didn't build houses, they built people.

Caretaker of the State
Miriam was a caretaker for the State of Israel and the State didn't even know it. She cared for some of the most vulnerable in the nation. Imagine being dropped into a crowded room with millions of people and not being able to speak or be understood. It is torture. Miriam took the Russian olim who were elderly or who had to immediately work and couldn't go to an intensive Jerusalem Ulpan. She taught them the basics of a totally foreign language and she guided them through their lives here.
Now I realize I was blessed that I couldn't go to regular Ulpan, because I got to learn with Miriam. I learned - not only how to overcome the challenges of the Hebrew language - how to overcome the challenges of life in Israel. (I guess that sounds a bit much today when there are so many olim with so many help opportunities and organizations, like Nefesh B'Nefesh, to smooth the way. But when I came and especially when the Russian olim came, there was just about nothing!)
Miriam Freund taught us verbs and nouns, how to read the Efratone headlines (some folks graduated to the entire articles), how to listen to the news, how to see life in Israel for its blessings and how to overcome its challenges.
Life in Israel was difficult for us - a Russian doctor, an engineer, a teacher, all who were reduced to cleaning houses because they were too old to retrain in Hebrew; and me, a journalist who was a new mother and Hebrewly-challenged. (Over the years the Russian olim were resettled into real apartments and other American olah mothers came to our Ulpan too.)
Throughout our early years B"H Miriam interpreted life for us here. She actually made it bearable and made it wonderful too. Every week was a new trial for our classmates and our families- school, work, bureaucracy, teacher's notes, friendships, finding a home, health, relationships. We walked into Ulpan with all our troubles and she helped us through them.

Part of Jewish History
She made us feel that we, even with our woes, were part of Jewish history. Many olim had come before us, and many would follow. Difficulties would happen and we would overcome. We did, thanks to Miriam.
She herself had been an olah. She came at a young age from Germany with her family. I think she was three. At 17, she volunteered as a message courier for the Hagannah. She met her husband Aharon and had a simple wedding. If we thought we had difficulties, things were a zillion times were difficult before the State and during its beginnings.
She raised a family of devoted children. Some became chareidi, some dati-leumi, but family was paramount, and transcended differences in lifestyle. That example alone guided me when my children also chose different paths in their Torah paths.
She told us about her children in Alon Shvut, in Pesagot, in Jerusalem, in Bet El. She told us personal family stories that made us laugh and cry. We all shared our family dramas and family happinesses.
At every class we were to hand in stories in Hebrew about our life here. We discussed them, we commiserated with one another in our troubles and we cheered each other's successes. And then we received the stories back with big red corrections all over them.
We were told to come in to class with a funny story and we went around the room making one another smile.
Miriam enthralled us with stories about modern Jewish history, and whenever our troubles seemed too much for us to bear, she told us the story about the two troubled Chassidim. Two Chassidim with many problems went to their rebbie to ask for help to bear the burdens of life. The rebbie told them to write down all their troubles and place them in their coat pockets. Then he told them to switch coats. Each found the other's burdens absolutely too heavy, but when they switched coats again, they found they were able to handle the challenges they originally faced.
She gave us another trick that I do until this day. Miriam told us to write down our troubles and put them in a drawer. Then she said to take them out three months later. She said that when we reviewed the problems at a later day, we would find that they had worked themselves out. And they did.

Personal Lesson in Terror
Miriam taught us how to overcome just about everything - even the most horrible trials of life. In 2002 Miriam's daughter and son-in-law Chani and Yossi Dickstein of Pesagot were killed in a terror attack near Hebron on their way to a friend for Shabbat. Also murdered was their nine-year-old son Shuva-el. Nine Dickstein children were left orphaned. Miriam and her husband Aharon did everything they could to help the children, and one of the Freund's sons took it upon himself to be father of the children.
At a time of terror and fear, Miriam was a model of courage and faith.
Many times over the years I asked Miriam if I could nominate her for an award for national service. She always declined, although she deserved all the honor possible.

Bravery Always
When she was stricken with cancer Miriam remained positive brave and very matter-of-fact. She had taught us to take life as it was, and she did the same. I visited her when she was feeling strong-ish and she was just as she was - always anxious to hear news of my children, my work, my volunteering efforts, my life. She was just as she was - encouraging, warm, positive and accepting.
This morning I awoke to the news that my beloved teacher had passed away.
My Life Interpreter is gone, but over the years Miriam taught me to be a Life Interpreter too. I will always be grateful and thank her for the hidden blessings she taught me to interpret and appreciate.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Night Driving - A Parable of Life

I was driving home the other night in the Jordan Valley. Things were fine when the road was lit with lamp posts or even pitch black. But when on-coming cars shined their lights in my face, I was blinded and could not find my bearings.
The only thing that literally saved me were the red lights of the car in front of me. If I could keep focused on the car's red lights, I was able to stay in my lane and drive with confidence and control.
I mentioned that fact to my daughter-in-law, who was the only person in the car awake besides me.
She said that the story was a perfect parable. A person can drive through life being sent astray by bright shiny lights. But if he has his eyes focused on the red light ahead of him, the boundaries we learn from a Torah-filled lifestyle, then we will be able to control our lives and go along the right path always.

Beloved Gentiles - Glenn Beck and King Agrippas

I was away with the family on vacation when tv news commentator Glenn Beck held his Courage rallies in Israel. I missed the hullabaloo.
"Beck is providing a sense of pride and support for Israelis in a sea of hate." Thus said one columnist Tabitha Korol in an Israel National News op-Ed. What Tabitha said was true. And thank you, Glenn Beck.
Still ...the entire Beck story reminds me of the tale of Agrippas the King (grandson of Herod). Agrippas was a truly good and noble king. He helped the Jewish people in many ways in their relationship to the Caesars and Rome. He was careful to observe Jewish precepts. The Virtual Jewish library said that he married his
daughters to Jewish notables, and was very close to the Torah-true rabbis of the Pharisees.
“Apparently, it is Agrippas I who is referred to in the Mishnah which points out that when celebrating the festival of the first fruits, ‘even King Agrippas carried the basket [of fruits] on his shoulder’
(Bik. 3:4).”
But the most famous Agrippas story took place when King Agrippas was reading from the Torah before the Jewish nation at the end of the shmitta year (Sotah 41:B). “When he reached the passage, ‘one from among your brethren shall you set as a king over you; you may not put a foreigner over you," his eyes filled with tears, since he was not of pure Jewish descent.” He was so well-loved that the sages, however, called out, “Agrippa, you are our brother! You are our brother!’”
The end of the story is not so great – Agrippas was killed apparently by the Romans, who feared his popularity. And the Gemara sees this episode unfavorably as well. It states that the Jewish people were deserving of the death sentence for flattery of the king.
So, why does this story remind me of Glenn Beck?
Glenn is a beloved media personality that speaks out for the Jewish people without fear. He has embraced rabbis and lovers of Eretz Yisrael. Tens of thousands of Jews (and non-Jews) stood shoulder to the shoulder, breaking into applause every few moments from Glenn’s inspiring words. He said all the right things – love, belief, faith, courage, pride. He believes all the right thoughts, and he tells it to the world. It is great to have a friend like that in the world.
Like Agrippas, Beck is not Jewish. He is a devoted friend of Israel, but he is not Jewish. And hopefully the folks falling all over him were not doing so for flattery, because Jews have a tendency to crave the love of the non-Jew.
But, I have a question. If there was a Jewish speaker, Chaim Whatever, who was just as fiery and exciting as Beck, would anyone have come out to hear him? Would folks have gotten on buses from all over the country to attend the speeches of a Jewish lover of Israel? And furthermore, where is the Jewish speaker who can electrify an audience and bring them to their feet in praise of G-d and His people? Does he even exist?
I wish the answer was yes, but the truth is that a Jew speaking out for Israel is a yawn. It seems if we want to attract the world (and Jews alike) to a positive message about Israel, we need an Agrippas to talk up for the Jewish people. So sad, and it's our own fault.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Mother the Evacuee


I grew up on Long Island. Almost nothing exciting ever happened there during my childhood, except two humongous snow storms. The snow was as high as an elephant's eye!! But besides that, calm and quiet Long Island life.
Then when we got married, and still lived on Long Island, things continued to be calm and quiet, until a mammoth storm on Sukkot sent my relatives in other areas to my house, where we sat on the living room carpet to wait out the storm.
Earthquake!
Well, I haven't lived in Long Island for many years. But it seems to have turned into a pretty exciting (not good exciting) place. Last week they felt the tremors of the earthquake that hit the Washington DC area. My dearest mother, until 120, was sitting in the living room when her chair started shaking so badly, she had to get up to see if it was broken. Then when she saw that it was sturdy enough, she thought, G-d forbid, that her adult-onset-tremors had worsened. Suddenly her visitors ran in and said, "Earthquake!!"
Hurricane!
Over the years there have also been rain storms and snow storms, but there's never been anything like Hurricane Irene.
I don't know how hard the storm will hit, but New York and Long Island have not taken any chances. The subways were shut down for a natural disaster for the first time in 100 years. That's serious.
Hundreds of thousands of New York residents have been evacuated. Wow.
And yet, despite warnings many people have chosen to stay in their homes.
As my niece and nephew rushed around, shopped for staples, called friends to find out their evacuation plans, my mother calmly played solitaire on the computer. "You're embarrassing me," she said. "It's going to be a big nothing." My mother is, B"H, not easily phased by things. She stood firm during World War II, during the Korean War, the moratoriums and the Vietnam War, during the Great Blackouts of whatever the years were. She even came to Israel to be with her kids during the Gulf War and a few intifadas. Her courage, B"H, was an example to all. But even calm grandmothers must face the moment of truth. Senior citizens, especially, were told to evacuate immediately. So, despite the fact that she thought it was all hot air (hurricanes are actually violent, not necessarily hot, air), B"H she complied.
My mother was evacuated to family in upstate New York. (Thanks, family, for your hospitality!) B"H, I can rest easier knowing she is out of harm's way.
But how did hundreds of thousands of people escape the hurricane without trains or buses or planes? That's still a mystery to me. And where did they go? Do almost a million people have friends or family in upstate New York?
My nephew said that the only thing they were showing on the news were these hundreds of thousands on the roads, and it all looked like something out of an end-of-the-world horror movie.
Well, if Hurricane Irene ends up being as bad as they're anticipating, the scary part is yet to come.
My thoughts and prayers are with our brethren in the wake of Hurricane Irene. May they be safe and secure, and may things get back to normal...no, better than normal, very soon.
My grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to sing us a ditty before he went to bed each night,
Irene, goodnight, Irene, goodnight

Goodnight, Irene, goodnight, Irene
I'll see you in my dreams...
Let's all hope that Irene indeed will pass over night like a dream, and not, G-d forbid, a nightmare.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Anti-Social Media Parents


We went on vacation this week with our children and grandchildren. B"H, we had an incredible time. My grandchildren are so delicious, B"H, I wanted to photograph their every move. We did such fun things, my husband and I wanted to snap every moment.
So, we did. We used our cameras, and we pulled out our iphones to snap and send!
Then my son said something that made me stop, "You and Abba are so busy taking pictures, you're not participating in this vacation. You're so worried about the pictures that you're outside all the fun and not interacting with anyone."
Suddenly I realized that he was right.
We had spent the first few days, photographing every move everyone made and sending the photos to our family all over the world.
My son said, "You're keeping in touch with everyone everywhere, except for us right here."
And then I realized I had become something I decried only a few days earlier - a part of the anti-social media revolution.
Remember, I wrote about those folks - http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2011/08/social-or-anti-social-media.html. They're the ones who'd rather SMS their friends then talk to them face to face. They'd rather skype then get together for a cup of coffee.
And I guess they'd rather take pictures and send them to their sister in Florida and their friend in Paris, then be "in the moment" with their kids.
So, I didn't put down the camera totally (let's not go overboard), but I only sent about ten photos a day and I did more hugging and appreciating and living the moment with the people I love best.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Riding Jerusalem's New Light Rail


Friday was the opening day of Jerusalem's Light Rail System. We have waited so many years for the Light Rail to become a reality. It's almost too hard to believe it's real.
About a year and a half ago, my daughter Bati and I visited the Light Rail Depot to find out what we had to look forward to: http://www.voices-magazine.com/index.php?page=inside_page&id=25
They told us that the Light Rail would be running by January, February, March or April 2011.
Well, it's only four months late of its most recent anticipated date.
So, when they announced that the train would actually be running on Friday, my daughter and I drove to Jerusalem just to take a ride on the first day of the train.
Every station was packed with families, as eager as we were to take a spin.
The trains were beautiful, futuristic, reminiscent of Disney World. The train stations were modern, with changing announcement boards telling you exactly when the next train is due.
The train ride from one end (Har Herzl) to the other (Pisgat Ze'ev) currently takes 80 minutes, but IY"H when the kinks are out of the system, the ride will be about 40 minutes.
It's really fun and a great way to get around town, or take the kids out for an exciting day.
The train is free for the next two weeks. Take advantage.
All aboard.
We were so excited, we even made a movie about it. (You'll have to come back to see it another time.)


Friday, August 19, 2011

Park Dedication in Memory of Uriel Liwerant

I set up this issue of VOICES as a 36 page lite-summer edition. Just as I was sending it off to the printer, my husband said, "Why do I see 36 pages here? Voices is printed in 16 pages increments, so it would have to be 32!!"
I worked all night trying to cut four pages. They will all be reinstated in the September issue of Voices, IY"H. Meanwhile, for those of you who are wondering where to find the write-up of the inspiration park dedication in memory of Uriel Liwerant, o'h, HERE IT IS.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Look at Israel's Future

Boy, you can really get depressed if you listen to the news. Politics, housing, Arabs, no loss of troubles around, ugh.
But we're standing in the midst of the three weeks of consolation, days of optimism, a time when we feel the future is bright.
Tonight, B"H, I was witness to this consolation up close and personal.
Mordechai Goodman, owner of Pizzeria Efrat, invited me to come to the pizza store today to meet Efrat's new olim (immigrants).

There, B"H filling all the tables in the store, were about 25 children, straight off the Nefesh B'Nefesh plane. One actually came yesterday from New Jersey.
They were participating in Efrat Olim Camp, making friends, acclimating to their new life, and maybe even learning a little Hebrew. There were sisters from Toronto, triplets from Cedarhurst, and kids from scattered neighborhoods all around the Americas. They were happy, smiley and laughing - eager to tell me where they moved: Zayit, Zayit, Zayit, Zayit, Neve Daniel, Dekel, Zayit..., and what school they would attend next year.
These 25 little children are a nechama for all Am Yisrael. They are our future. They are the positive tomorrow that we always hoped for. Our dreams are coming true with the thousands of children who have flown here from the four corners of the world, and because of those wonderful native children who are here to greet them and with whom they can join together to build our nation.
Am Yisrael Chai.

Israel, Be Proactive, Not Reactive!

I read the JPost article this morning in which Likud MK Danny Danon proposes that Israel immediately annex Judea and Samaria.
The campaign begins on Facebook (of course).
Danon said, “The campaign will call for the Israeli government to respond to the Palestinians’unilateral step by taking a Zionist unilateral action of annexing the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria,” Danon said.
Jpost reported that "Support for such a move is growing as the Palestinians’ September 20 initiative comes closer. More than half the Likud faction has endorsed the idea, including ministers Gilad Erdan, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kahlon, and Yuli Edelstein."
Only last month, I attended an Israeli Initiative - Sovereignty for Judea and Samaria Conference in Hebron, the first capital of a united Jewish people under King David. (http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2011/08/israeli-initiative-for-judea-and.html)
The program, sponsored by Women in Green, featured Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, whose first comment was, "Don't say 'annex.' We annex something that doesn't belong to us." Judea and Samaria have belonged to the Jewish people since they were promised to our Patriarch Abraham, since they were conquered by command of G-d through Moses' successor Joshua.
The term is to extend sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.
But the campaign, wonderful as it is, is not the point of this blog.
The campaign is terrific. It should have been launched 44 years ago.
For 44 years, our government has been so frightened. "Oy, let's not make waves in Judea and Samaria, because the nations of the world will condemn us." They condemn us anything. And because we are afraid to say, "This is ours," the world says, "This is not yours."
"Let's not build too much (hopefully not at all) in Judea and Samaria, because we don't want to get Peace Now up in arms." They're always up in arms. And while we're not building, the Arabs are building more and more each day. We're afraid to create facts on the ground. Well, facts on the ground is the Arabs' middle name, plus their first and their last.
So, while the Israeli government has been shivering in our Judean and Samarian boots and even preventing the thriving Zionistic towns of Judea and Samaria from growing and expanding, the Arabs who have moved next to our towns (for work and the side benefits of successful Jewish settlement), have grown unchecked.
Forty-four years ago, the government should have said, "Our Biblical homeland has been returned to us. We are finally a complete nation (or almost - we just need Jews from around the world to come home, and then we need to expand into our G-d given territory of today's Jordan).
Okay, we didn't do it 44 years ago. So, 30 years ago, we should have stood up and said, "Eretz Yisrael is the State of Israel."
All right, no tears over the past. Twenty years ago, our leaders should have said, "All of Israel from the Lebanon and the Bashan to the lands of Reuben, Gad and half of Menashe, down to the Negev are one."
That didn't happen.
And so now, like every other moment in modern Jewish history, the government of Israel is reacting after an Arab event.
The Arabs have been working for years on putting into place a mechanism that will become their nation - creating an economy (okay, it's based on the dole, but it's got its system in place), creating a health care system, creating an educational and recreational system (okay, it uses terrorists and shahids as role models, but it's got a system).
The Arabs have been walking steadily forward, steadily onward and the Israeli government and its officials have just been saying, "Nach, it's not going to happen. Vorry nisht."
And then suddenly when they realized, hm, this seems like maybe it is going to happen, the government began working trying to talk nations into rejecting the Palestinian Authority's bid for Statehood in September 2011. Why should they reject Palestine? I can hear them now, "O Let's okay, Palestine and we've got another monkey off our backs. Yesh!!" (Okay, not Yesh, but whatever their equivalent to Yesh is.)
So, Danon and friends think that Facebook is going to launch an adoption of Greater Israel (not the Greatest, because Jewish Gaza is gone right now) by September? I don't really think they do. But I think they just don't want to sit back and tell their grandchildren that they did nothing when the State of Israel was threatened with dismemberment, G-d forbid.
O' Israel, if only you believed that Hashem was with you, you would do all those things that would insure a peaceful, secure, prosperous future.
O' Mr. Prime Minister, Knesset Members, leaders of Israel, if only you understood that G-d wants to help you and stand with you, then you would be proactive for the benefit of the nation of Israel. You would include Judea and Samaria in Israel's official sovereignty. You would build the entire nation from north to south, east to west. You would build schools and yeshivot and mikvaot and playgrounds and homes, homes, homes. You would encourage business and entrepreneurship and help every person make a decent wage. You would allow new technologies to thrive and change the country's future for the better. You would side with the people against monopolies and price gougers, and you would do what was right in the eyes of G-d.

The Israeli Initiative for Judea and Samaria


Right wing personalities and lovers of the land are campaigning now to bring a new song to the political arena – aiming to switch the lyrics of “two lands for two peoples” to “Judea and Samaria is Israel”. Is it an impossible goal to attain? Right wing figures don’t think so. They’re introducing the new refrain to the public wherever they can.
Over the past four decades since the Six Day War, the idea to apply Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria surfaced, dove
and resurfaced. Now that the world is racing to create a Palestinian State in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Eastern Jerusalem, an alternative of implementing sovereignty has come to light once more.
An Israel - Regain the Initiative Conference, held recently in Hebron at the Machpela Visitors Center explored the Jewish, Zionist, political, diplomatic, economic and legal ramifications of this move, as well as the state of Arab-Israeli and American-Israeli relations. Each of the speakers adamantly agreed that the establishment of a Palestinian State, chas v’shalom, within the borders of Israel could mean the destruction of the State. Each had his own slant on an alternative. The conference was organized by Nadia Matar, Yehudit Katsover, Women for Israel’s Tomorrow (Women in Green), Professors for a Strong Israel and Arutz 7.
Women in Green co-chair Yehudit Katsover explained that Hebron is the most appropriate place for the conference, because in Hebron the history of the Jewish people began. Avraham purchased it for 400 pieces of silver. King David ruled his first kingdom here. From Hebron, we call for Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.”
BTW, a survey by the Geocartography Institute, shows that over 54% of the public favor annexing Judea and Samaria, while only 30% oppose it.
Judea and Samaria are Israel
Never use the term “annex”, Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely cautioned. “Annex is used in connection to land that doesn’t belong to you. The term should be ‘implement sovereignty.’”
“It’s clear that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. No one disagrees with that point, but after many long years we became used to living in this interim status,” MK Hotovely said.
Then why wasn’t anything done, even by the right wing, with Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) since 1967? Tzipi answered, “We hesitate giving rights to the Arabs that live here. Golda Meir said, ‘The dowry from 1967 is great, but what do we do with the bride?’”
“As we march toward September [when the PA hopes to get a UN nod for Palestinian statehood], we should do what we should have done 40 years ago. Impose Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, restore our civil control.”
Tzipi credited Uri Elitzur, former chairman of the Yesha Council of Settlements and Netanyahu's bureau chief in his first term as prime minister, as well as Rav Chanan Porat, for originally la
unching this idea.
MK Hotovely told conference attendees that at first she was alone in championing Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, but now some senior government members are talking about this idea, and there are several bills that can go forward in the Knesset on this regard.
But the problem still remains of a hostile Arab population numbering between one and two million in Judea and Samaria.
Their naturalization might be dangerous to Israel. “But we can begin first by having sovereignty over Area C, where there are only 100,000 Arabs. This can be a very important experiment for us.”
She added that Israel’s Arabs should be required to do national service.
“It is six years since Gush Katif, and I do not want to see a situation where the citizens of Judea and Samaria have to fight for their homes. Six hundred thousand Jews who declare sovereignty in an area of hostile Arabs is no less logical than six million Jews [who want sovereignty over their entire Land] in a sea of millions of Arabs,” she said.
Jordan is Palestine
National Union MK Arye Eldad agreed that now is the time for Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, but he stated that part of the equation must be that the Arabs living in Israel should be considered Jordanians. He said, “A special committee at the UN, November 29, 1947, declared the Arabs in a Jewish state will be residents of the Jewish State and citizens of the Arab state.”
In addition, he feels that Arabs should be offered the right of voluntary transfer.
Eldad reminded the crowd at the conference, “Those territories belonged to our tribes”, but the
British separated 77% of the Jewish State [given to us at the San Remo Conference of 1922] for a new Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. However, 75-80% of the
population there is already Palestinian. Therefore, it seems clear that the formula for Middle East Peace is ‘Jordan is Palestine’.”
“If what happened in Cairo happens in Jordan,” he said, “the Palestinians will become the owners of Jordan. Once the Palestinians lose their orphan status as a people without a state, their international demands will become much weaker.”
Go For It All
Caroline Glick also agreed that now is the time to extend Israeli sovereignty on Judea and Samaria, but instead of declaring partial sovereignty, Caroline advised going all the way.
Caroline, Deputy Managing Editor of The Jerusalem Post, lead columnist for Makor Rishon and senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC, warned, “We understand that a Palestinian state will bring catastrophic episodes: attacks on Ben Gurion Airport; the terror of Gaza to Jerusalem; and then Arabs will stand up for independence within the State of Israel. In addition to all this, we know we can’t survive in borders without Judea and Samaria.”
“We left Lebanon, and Hizbullah took over. We left Gaza, and we got a terror state. It will bring only a catastrophe and despite that, most people of the State of Israel still believe it’s the only possible option,” she said.
That’s because the right never talks about another option, she noted. No one ever says why Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is a better option than a terror state in Judea and Samaria.
“It is true with the Arab population, if we implement Jewish law in Judea and Samaria, we will have ultimately a minority of 33% Arabs. But that option is still far more preferable than the destruction of the State of Israel with a terrorist state in its heart,” she said.
If Arabs of Judea and Samaria want to be naturalized, Caroline said, Israel can have them swear an oath of allegiance. They can also rule that no one associated with a terrorist organization can be a citizen.
She also explained that larger Aliyah would help lower the percentage of the Arab population. To tremendous applause, she commented, “Well, there’s no reason Jews should be in America!”
Israelis need not worry about security in the case of Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. She explained, “Arabs travel freely from the Galil to Um El Fahm. The reason we don’t see terror there is because we’re in charge. There is Israeli security.”
They also need not worry about the reaction of the rest of the world. “We imposed sovereignty after 1967 in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. What did ‘they’ do? Nothing. The important thing in the State of Israel is action, not talk. Every day that we do nothing and do not initiate things, we are accepting a Palestinian State.”
Glick said that because sovereignty over Judea and Samaria will not go quietly “no matter what you do or how you do it,” Israel should go forward completely imposing sovereignty over all of
Judea and Samaria in one shot. She added, “If you’re not willing to pay the price of victory, then you lose (as we saw in Lebanon).”
Refugee Resettlement
Professor Rafi Yisraeli of Hebrew University considered the position of the Arabs with Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. He noted immediately that the majority of Arab refugees are not seeking relocation to Judea and Samaria, but to areas inside the 1948 State of Israel.
Professor Yisraeli told the conference that after the Second World War, American President Harry Truman appointed a Jew to be responsible for the problem of 20 million refugees in Europe. He concluded that if he had to choose between existing populations fighting forever, or transferring people to another place once in the generation, then he’d choose the solution that would ultimately end the problem.
He suggested using this model of exchanging populations to include an exchange of Jewish and
Arab populations that goes back to 1948 when Jews were forced out of Arab lands [almost a million Jews]. They have since acclimated to their new lands. However, he noted, “The Arabs have made being a refugee into a career. They are refugees now in their fourth generation.”
“I am willing to recognize [the Arabs’] right to self-determination, but they won’t recognize the right to Jewish self-determination. True, every nation has the right to be a national movement, and we have a national movement too. It’s called, Zionism.”
Dollars and Sense
Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria makes economic sense, according to Eran Bar-Tal – Editor, Economics Magazine – Makor Rishon. “Money talks,” he said, “and it speak to everyone, especially young people.”
A nation’s assets are its people, its land and capital.
More Arab workers of Judea and Samaria could be put to work instead of the foreign workers, Eran Bar-Tal said. “Importing foreign workers costs money, and anyone who’s been to the places where they live – like the old bus station in Tel Aviv - knows it’s a different country. Since the outbreak of terror, there’s been less of a demand for the Arab workers in Israel, and a larger number of them are going to Jordan, and helping their economy.”
The asset of land has been very much in the news lately with Israelis moving into tent cities, demanding more and affordable housing. Eran explained, “The area in demand is 10 million dunams. If we take off the expensive areas, there are eight million dunam.” If Israel wants to
create affordable housing, they should turn to Judea and Samaria, where there are six million dunam in the center of the country, very near to Israel’s cities and employment centers. “The solution to the housing crisis is right in front of their nose – [building in Yesha]. Is it logical not to buy an asset that is cheaper and just ten minutes from Kfar Saba?” he asked.
When you’re talking about the asset of capital, Eran explained, “Investment in infrastructure in Judea and Samaria is an excellent investment. We’re always embarrassed and don’t talk about the economic price of not having sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. The housing crisis is because of the freeze in Judea and Samaria.”
USA + US
People justify the need for two states, because they feel we can’t stand up to American pressure, and because they feel our population is so small, if we added any more Arabs into the mix, they’d demographically out number us in time. Former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger said that both statements are wrong.
America is not only Hollywood and New York. “There’s a huge sandwich in between the two shores with beliefs based on religion, faith and independence. They’re anti- terrorism, and they’re suspicious of the Moslem religion,” the Ambassador told the conference participants. Polls show that mainstream America is 80% pro-Israel. “We’re one of America’s five or seven most beloved nations, and Congress supports Israel,” Ambassador Ettinger said.
While he acknowledged the animosity of the President of the United States, Yoram noted that “the president is only one branch of three in the American government.”
Next, turning to the demographic threat, he noted that the real number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, according to the Border Patrol and a survey of the World Bank is 1.6 million Arabs and not 2.55 million Arabs.
In fact, he noted, the Arab fertility rate is dropping, and Arabs are emigrating out of Judea and Samaria every year. “Last year 2010, 17,000 Arabs left Judea and Samaria, while there has been an increase of Jewish immigration and an increase in Jewish births.”
Ambassador Ettinger explained as well that the urbanization of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, combined with the higher education of Arab women are factors in the decreasing Arab fertility. While even secular Israelis are having more children. “Russian women who once gave birth to 1.1 children now are passing three. In 1995, there were 80,000 Jewish births. In 2010 -125,000 Jewish births.”
He cautioned not to be frightened by the “demographic time bomb,” because the former numbers that everyone still cites are “dramatically and artificially inflated” and time is on the side of the Jewish people.
Public Opinions
Dr. Yitzchak Klein of the Israel Policy Center said that “Israeli public opinion determines what will be accepted and what won’t.”
If you look at the public opinion surveys lately, you’ll get divergent results.
Here’s one example. In a survey exhibited by the Israel Policy Center, people were asked, “Are you opposed to giving any territory even in the basis of an agreement?”
• 65% against giving the Jordan Valley
• 65% against giving Kever Rachel
• 75% against giving Gush Etzion
• 78% against giving Ariel
• 90% against giving the area near Ben Gurion
• 80% against giving the area near 443.
Should the separation fence be Israel’s international border? 54% said yes.
Dr. Klein explained, “The results of recent polls show the public holds two opinions at the same time: On the one hand they don't like the Palestinians, don't want to make concessions to them, don't feel we owe them anything. On the other they desperately want to be rid of them - separate from them. Taken as basic attitudes, not tied to any particular territory or border, the two positions are quite consistent and understandable. ...Any policy has to take account of both these aspects of public opinion. Partial annexation has to be combined - for now - with separation of Israeli and Palestinian areas.”
Dr. Klein said, “It isn't necessarily logically consistent with the other figures I cite, but that's what the poll shows. People aren't necessarily logically consistent or well-informed.”
Dr. Klein added, “I would like Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, not because I think it’s a security need (although it is), not because I want my son to have an apartment (although I do), but because it’s ours!!”
All in Favor
While the speakers were all in favor of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, they had small differences in how they would go about this plan, and when. Former Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Education Dr. Gabi Avital explained, “The very fact that we are talking about the subject can have an affect. As Rabbi Akiva said, if we drip water on a stone, eventually we will begin to reshape the stone.
“I’m in favor of territory for peace,” Dr. Avital said. “I’ll give you peace, you give me the territory.”
The main thing is that “Despair is a danger. Israel is on a path of growth. Stop complaining, go forward.”

Israel, Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

I read the JPost article this morning in which Likud MK Danny Danon proposes that Israel immediately annex Judea and Samaria.
The campaign begins on Facebook (of course).
Danon said, “The campaign will call for the Israeli government to respond to the Palestinians’unilateral step by taking a Zionist unilateral action of annexing the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria,” Danon said.
Jpost reported that "Support for such a move is growing as the Palestinians’ September 20 initiative comes closer. More than half the Likud faction has endorsed the idea, including ministers Gilad Erdan, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kahlon, and Yuli Edelstein."
Only last month, I attended an Israeli Initiative - Sovereignty for Judea and Samaria Conference in Hebron, the first capital of a united Jewish people under King David. (http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2011/08/israeli-initiative-for-judea-and.html)
The program, sponsored by Women in Green, featured Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, whose first comment was, "Don't say 'annex.' We annex something that doesn't belong to us." Judea and Samaria have belonged to the Jewish people since they were promised to our Patriarch Abraham, since they were conquered by command of G-d through Moses' successor Joshua.
The term is to extend sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.
But the campaign, wonderful as it is, is not the point of this blog.
The campaign is terrific. It should have been launched 44 years ago.
For 44 years, our government has been so frightened. "Oy, let's not make waves in Judea and Samaria, because the nations of the world will condemn us." They condemn us anything. And because we are afraid to say, "This is ours," the world says, "This is not yours."
"Let's not build too much (hopefully not at all) in Judea and Samaria, because we don't want to get Peace Now up in arms." They're always up in arms. And while we're not building, the Arabs are building more and more each day. We're afraid to create facts on the ground. Well, facts on the ground is the Arabs' middle name, plus their first and their last.
So, while the Israeli government has been shivering in our Judean and Samarian boots and even preventing the thriving Zionistic towns of Judea and Samaria from growing and expanding, the Arabs who have moved next to our towns (for work and the side benefits of successful Jewish settlement), have grown unchecked.
Forty-four years ago, the government should have said, "Our Biblical homeland has been returned to us. We are finally a complete nation (or almost - we just need Jews from around the world to come home, and then we need to expand into our G-d given territory of today's Jordan).
Okay, we didn't do it 44 years ago. So, 30 years ago, we should have stood up and said, "Eretz Yisrael is the State of Israel."
All right, no tears over the past. Twenty years ago, our leaders should have said, "All of Israel from the Lebanon and the Bashan to the lands of Reuben, Gad and half of Menashe, down to the Negev are one."
That didn't happen.
And so now, like every other moment in modern Jewish history, the government of Israel is reacting after an Arab event.
The Arabs have been working for years on putting into place a mechanism that will become their nation - creating an economy (okay, it's based on the dole, but it's got its system in place), creating a health care system, creating an educational and recreational system (okay, it uses terrorists and shahids as role models, but it's got a system).
The Arabs have been walking steadily forward, steadily onward and the Israeli government and its officials have just been saying, "Nach, it's not going to happen. Vorry nisht."
And then suddenly when they realized, hm, this seems like maybe it is going to happen, the government began working trying to talk nations into rejecting the Palestinian Authority's bid for Statehood in September 2011. Why should they reject Palestine? I can hear them now, "O Let's okay, Palestine and we've got another monkey off our backs. Yesh!!" (Okay, not Yesh, but whatever their equivalent to Yesh is.)
So, Danon and friends think that Facebook is going to launch an adoption of Greater Israel (not the Greatest, because Jewish Gaza is gone right now) by September? I don't really think they do. But I think they just don't want to sit back and tell their grandchildren that they did nothing when the State of Israel was threatened with dismemberment, G-d forbid.
O' Israel, if only you believed that Hashem was with you, you would do all those things that would insure a peaceful, secure, prosperous future.
O' Mr. Prime Minister, Knesset Members, leaders of Israel, if only you understood that G-d wants to help you and stand with you, then you would be proactive for the benefit of the nation of Israel. You would include Judea and Samaria in Israel's official sovereignty. You would build the entire nation from north to south, east to west. You would build schools and yeshivot and mikvaot and playgrounds and homes, homes, homes. You would encourage business and entrepreneurship and help every person make a decent wage. You would allow new technologies to thrive and change the country's future for the better. You would side with the people against monopolies and price gougers, and you would do what was right in the eyes of G-d.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Every Man Under His Fig Tree - Every Woman Next to Her Palm



We know that a blessing of the Jewish people, if they keep G-d's commandments and live upright lives is one of serenity, peace and prosperity. "Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the L-rd Almighty has spoken." (Micha 4:4)
Well, guys might want to sit under their fig trees, but B"H I have found the perfect spot for me, next to my robbelini palm trees on my little bench in my teeny garden.
It's a perfect spot for me - cozy, private, colorful, happy, and yes, serene.
I say my morning prayers here every day, and I thank Hashem for my husband, our mothers, our siblings, our children and grandchildren. And I thank G-d for the moments of quiet and peace He gives me in my little corner.
I wrote about my garden, http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2011/08/miracle-in-garden.html, when I started spending my quiet morning moments there.
In addition to thanking G-d for its beauty, I'd like to thank my husband, Israel, who restored the adorable bench that's in our corner, the Devere's for the wonderful cushion and genius creative gardener Josh Hyman for his "landscape, design and realization." His work is real proof of his innovation and understanding of his client's needs. My corner was a joint effort, and those are the best kind.
Thanks to all.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tu B'Av - Love the Second Time Around

Today was Tu B'Av, the happiest day on the Jewish calendar. Today in Biblical times, Jewish girls dressed in white dresses and danced in the fields, as they waited for eligible young tribesmen to come catch them.
Tu B'Av has been transformed into a day of love by the media. Still, it really is a perfect day for a wedding.
Today I attended two in the nearby town of Alon Shvut. Everyone was invited to "mesameach" (bring joy) to the bride and groom. And all those in attendance, danced and sang, just as if they were dear friends of the newlyweds.
The first was that of a middle aged couple from Spain that completed their conversion training and yesterday became officially Jewish. Today they became Jewish man and wife under a lovely chuppah with many friends around them. The bride was radiant in white with a purple flower on her dress. She carried beautiful purple flowers as she walked up to the wedding canopy, and then handed them to her teenage daughter to hold during the ceremony. The groom wore white too, plus a giant grin and a long beard.
As their parents sipped their wine and listened to their ketuba (wedding certificate) being read, and then translated into Spanish, their children giggled and whispered happily.
The couple may have teenage daughters, but they looked at each other with the same secret silliness that young brides and grooms do.
After their chuppah was complete, Alon Shvut's rabbi, Rav Gidon Perl, escorted them to their celebration and then invited the next couple to join him under the chuppah.
The Dutch groom with his grey and white beard and black hat, walked down the aisle with his nephew by his side. The Russian bride, dressed modestly in white, walked to the wedding canopy with a friend and the groom's niece, as his great-nieces excitedly ran alongside. As they stood beside one another, I could see their eyes shine.
This couple, as well, proved that love lives in the hearts of everyone who seeks it. There is no age limit to happiness.
May these couples, as well as all chattanim and kallot find joy together until 120, and may they build true and lasting batei neeman b'yisrael (faithful Jewish homes).

**
On another note :), it reminded me of an old Frank Sinatra tune.
Second Time Around Lyrics

Writer(s): cahn/van heusen Love is lovelier, the second time around Just as wonderful, with both feet on the ground It’s that second time you hear your love song sung Makes you think perhaps that love, like youth, is wasted on the young Love’s more comfortable the second time you fall Like a friendly home the second time you call Who can say, what brought us to this miracle we’ve found There are those who’d bet Love comes but once - and yet I’m oh so glad we met The second time around

A Day at King Hussein's Palace


Israeli authorities tore down a fence just put up around the hoped-for-but-never-completed palace of the late King Hussein of Jordan. (The building is seen here in my photos.) The article in Israel National News, http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/146772, said that the wakf was gating the structure.
Were the Arabs hoping to finally complete the building, which was abandoned at the start of the Six Day War? Since then, the
structure, standing high above Pisgat Zeev in northern Jerusalem, has been a monument to the miraculous victory that G-d granted the Jewish people in 1967. That's probably why the Arabs want to complete it:
1) Perhaps they're anticipating using it as an official structure in September 2011, if the UN (they hope) ratifies the creation of a Palestinian State, chas v'shalom.

2) The building has a symbol of Arab defeat and shame for 44 years, and they'd like to erase that memory.
So, of course, they want to finally build it. And now the time might seem right to them.
A Depraved Site
INN reported that archaeologists found evidence that that exact area is Geva, where the horrible story of the concubine of Geva occurred. (Judges 19) I shudder whenever I think of that bizarre and nightmarish story. Truthfully, I think the mountain should be plowed under and kept that way forever.
Flashback
Meanwhile...when I was a teenager I wanted to be a doctor or a scientist. I had the opportunity to come to Israel and study science in Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. I joined the program, but instead of being assigned to one of the hospitals or biological laboratories, I was assigned to the Entomology Department of Hebrew. It was located at the time in the Terra Santa building across from the King's Hotel.
The location was gorgeous, but once you walked inside the building, bees/wasps/hornets were flying everywhere, scorpions were scurrying in hopes of escape, and assorted bugs of all sorts were all around. I already had a hatred of bugs, but this just clinched it.
I was assigned to the study of grasshoppers and their song.
It was in truth a very fascinating study, and I enjoyed my summer immensely, except for walking around Terra Santa.
One morning we got into a mini-bus and drove up to King Hussein's shell of a palace. We were each given large garbage bags and told, "Happy hunting."
It seems this location in Jerusalem was the best place possible to catch the two kinds of grasshoppers we were studying. And sure enough, they were everywhere.
Now...when you pick up a grasshopper, you've got to catch it by two legs, or it releases one, "ping," and jumps away.
So, we were very careful to catch our grasshoppers by two knees. There are few things as bluchhy as being left with one grasshopper leg in your palm.
When we had filled our bags with chirping hoppers, we went back to the University.
But before I climbed on to the bus, I took one last look at the shell of the Arab palace on top of the hill, and then another at the grasshoppers pinging from side to side in my bag.
And I thought, "...we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.." (Numbers 13:33)
Suddenly things seemed very different for me. I was standing on what once was an Arab occupied hill, once destined to be summer home to the King of Jordan, and yet I was a Jewish girl in magnificent rebuilt Jerusalem.
I did not feel like a grasshopper in anyone's eyes. On the contrary, I was a proud brave Jewish girl high atop a former Arab hill that Jordanians wanted for their king, and I had the grasshoppers in my own hands.
King Hussein is gone. The building is an empty shell. And G-d still reigns as King of kings.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Remembering Gush Katif of the Past and Preparing for GK of the Future

My dear friend, Anita Tucker wrote an email about what it was like for her community Netzer Hazani to commemorate the night that their families were pulled out of their homes in Gush Katif six years ago. But they didn't stop at the past. They went further to help prepare the next generation to enter their new community of Yesodot, may it be built speedily.
I had been in Netzer Hazani many times and had visited Anita in her celery hot house. Those are memories I will have IY"H always.
But foolishness and evil have destroyed Gush Katif. We still have our memories, and B"H, the expellees of Gush Katif, still have the spirit that made Gush Katif a paradise.

Anita's letter is so moving, I had to share it with you. You can contact her and even help Netzer Hazani move forward by writing to: tucker.anita@gmail.com.

BS"D

Dearest friends,

Last night I was right here in the ein tzurim temporary site at our Netzer Hazani yearly commemoration of the 13 Av (Aug. 17) -- the day we were actually forced out of Netzer Hazani.

We have been commemorating every year these last six years, each year in a
nother special way.

This year we commemorated by emphasizing the nostalgia of the experiences of a farming community of young idealistic families. It began with some of families parting with Gush Katif sand that they still had in boxes in their shed in order to enable the children to feel and the warmth and the hugging fineness of this sand, this land of their forefathers as they gently poured the sand into small bottles, sealed them and designed an expressive label that would be pasted on the bottles.

The next activity was with the youngest, the third generation building a model of our moshav. The children divided into groups and each group recreated with paper and cardboad and everything in site another aspect of the physical Moshav. Trees, houses, community buildings, sports facilities. The teenagers, who were the madrichim in this part of day and helped the little ones get it all together, were very very moved. They recalled and debated between them where exactly each tree and building stood with tremendous love and connection to the place and pain as they absorbed that time can erase from their memories the realities that were because of their tendor age at the time the trauma of expulsion and destruction began.

Each chld felt it important that their family home be shown in its glory and that the community facilities be in exactly the right spot as they were in reality.

Next part of the program was a huge truck bought a truckload of sand to the area near the community building in the caravillla site. It was pushed up by our tractor drivers to be as tall a sand dune as possible. The all the children ran to the top of the dune and slid down. Many of us grandmas tried if out as well but -- after one slide we knew that all efforts could never replace the very special Netzer Hazani, Gush Katif sand dunes other than going back home again some day bimhera beyameinu!

Then a few hours later we began the adult and youth commemoration--Kobi Arieli, the chareidi media person -- was the MC -- and expressed with sincerity his emotion on hearing amazing stories of those first years -- and never realized all that the mesirut nefesh involved and the so integrated population that were building the Jewish towns in Gaza.

One of our ladies, Tamar Mamman told how every Shabbat the "entire " moshav would eat seuda shlishit together each time in another home. The first homes were literally built with prefab slabs of concrete on the sand with the soft sand as paths and roads -- and we had to move in with tractors that even they would also sink in the sand.

So on their first Shabbat in the yishuv --they were family # 18 and moved in directly to new home without the temporary stay in Kfar Darom -- Tamar and Chaim Mamman were leaving the seuda shlishit in someone's home -- and suddenly couldn't figure out which was their home as the all looked the same dropped in some straightened out sand among all the sand dunes. They recalled that they had left the broom outside and started checking each house entrance to recognize ther broom and finally got home.

I told how that we began in a time when there were no foreign workers and no local workers --only our own Avoda Ivrit -- each family had to work their own farm on their own. There were no nurseries, and no kindergartens and our toddlers babies grew up crawling around the sand in the greenhouse -- and nashing tomatoes they pulled off from the lowest trusses as they crawled around. One of my daughters whose name is Tamati -- was always nicknamed as a tot, tomato --as that was her natural environment.

The challenges were enormous but the experiences and accomplishments were accordingly.

Kobi Arielli the MC was visibly moved by having learned about the nostalgic roots of the first Gush Katif community. He of course had us rolling in laughter with his jokes about Jewish community life in general. The laughter and story telling were the best possible therapy that we could have had for the most difficult day of the year for all of us . Our life endeavors, our roots in our little piece of Eretz Yisrael are again empty sand dunes -- thirty years of devotion to the special dear land totally erased.

The only saving grace is that we can still laugh, although accompanied with pain, and strive to build anew as the spirit and values are carried on by the generation that grew up in the greenhouses eating tomatoes and sliding down the sand dunes. We see every day how the realize what a zchut they had to grow up in this special piece of Eretz Yisrael. Their little parcel the inheritance of Shevet Yehuda.

Shavua Tov, Anita

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is it Divine Retribution?

Last week when I spoke for a gathering commemorating the 6th Anniversary of the Destruction of Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron communities, I had some interesting feedback to my speech.
B"H, it was all positive.
I had said,
"The foundation of today’s we-want-a-home tent protests did not begin last month on Rothschild Blvd. They began in Gush Katif six years ago when 10,000 Jews became homeless. Just as former Israeli Prime Minister Arik Sharon predicted, 'The fate of Netzarim is the same as the fate of Tel Aviv.' And so it is."
My audience agreed.
Yesterday my husband and VOICES publisher Israel Katz told me that things happening today are so clearly Divine Punishments for past sins against the Jewish people. These were his thoughts:
"Everything we see today is a case of midda k'neged midda, (loosely: the punishment fits the crime). The same people in Tel Aviv and Central Israel that pushed for the homelessness of the people of Gush Katif are now homeless themselves. The same people who have spent the past many years crying out for the destruction of homes in Judea and Samaria are themselves without homes."
"If young people all over Israel want social justice, they should make sure that the Jews of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron are settled into permanent housing and working in appropriate jobs and businesses. Then they will be blessed with social justice for themselves."
He continued. "G-d has infinite patience. Sometimes it takes a little longer for G-d's Hand to be seen. But it is surely seen today in Great Britain with the London Riots."
"The British, who during the British Mandate in Eretz Yisrael, captured Aliya vessels and returned the Jews on their way to the Land of Israel back to certain death in the fires of German's crematoria are today seeing their own country consumed by fires everywhere."
"London is burning down. Buildings and neighborhoods that survived the Nazi blitz are now unable to survive G-d's wrath by the hand of 13 and 14 year olds."
The world was warned long ago, "G-d will bless those who bless the Jewish nation, but those who curse the Jewish nation shall be cursed."
(Photo from Jewish Task Force)

Social Media and Me

The reason I got to thinking about social media (http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2011 /08/social-or-anti-social-media.html) is because I filmed a video short about social media on Friday. I was a movie star for a day.
It's actually not the first movie I have been in. When I worked as a reporter in New York, I wrote about the movie business and sometimes showed up on film, as well, just for fun.
But it has been a while.
In the past ten years, I've been on stage in the Raise Your Spirits productions, a theater company that I founded, and in the Dames of the Dance extravaganzas, my second performing company.

But I was asked to act on video for a social media project, and I said yes.
It was so so so much fun. Imagine being in the spotlight for a half hour, all eyes on you. Everyone has to listen to whatever you say, and they actually have to laugh, because it's the polite thing to do.
So, now I understand how those celluloid stars could really become a little egotistic and selfish, because the spotlight is very appealing to one's self-esteem. And then I can understand why some of them go down the drain after their brief stardom - no spotlight, no attention, no self-esteem.
But I digress...
I was talking to my friend Danny about social media and he told me all the positives - people interacting from all over the world, learning from one another, learning to understand one another, enriching each other's lives, making a change in 100, 1000 or even a million people.
That's a very constructive use of social media.
But unfortunately, we've seen lots of destructive uses of social media lately. The riots in London are totally run by social media. Teenagers twitter each other what block to congregate upon, and then twitter again when it's time to attack, loot or burn down a store. What could be more anti-social media than that?
But really, we can't condemn the system. It seems that social media can be used for good or it can be used for bad. It can tear down walls between people or it can tear down walls.
I'm for using social media in healthy, constructive and helpful ways. I hope you are too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Social or Anti-Social Media?

Every week I send out a family email. I update our family on who is where and who's doing what.
I remind the clan about birthdays, anniversaries and milestones.
I send photos and video clips. I do all this to keep our family together no matter how physically far apart we are from one another.
When I lamented our family members mostly don't respond to the email, my son said that I should send the information out on Facebook instead. And since he's a man of action, he went ahead and made the family our own Facebook group. Along with that, he made me a personal Facebook page, and patiently explained how to use it.
I think I actually did use it on the day after he showed me, but I just didn't click with it, or perhaps the family didn't click with it, so that discouraged me. I need to see immediate results in anything I do. I guess I'm a tachlis girl - cause and effect, that's what I like.
I've never been on the page since, but I often get a Facebook message that says, "______ sent you a message on Facebook" or "________ wants you to be friends on Facebook."

Well, that's all very nice, but I don't want to be friends with folks on Facebook. I want to be real friends. I want to email, call or even have coffee with a friend and actually talk face-to-face (today they call it F2F).
So, until I understand better what social media is, I think I'll stick to just the social part.

Anti-Social?

I read an article that said that youth surveyed said they'd rather speak with their friends by SMS or through Facebook than in person. Isn't there something wrong with that? Does that sound like social media?
Someone told me today that some religious youth are having trouble not using SMS on the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest, when we go to the synagogue, hang around chatting at the kiddush and then spend the day singing, learning and enjoying a calm social life with our family. But these SMS-addicted religious kids can't get that social part, they feel they've got to SMS, no matter what the ten commandments say.
The same survey said that young people today prefer looking down than looking up. Of course, they're looking down, they're looking down at their cell phones. But for life, a person has to look up. For his soul, he's got to look at the sun, look at the smile of a friend, look up to the new day. He's got to look up to G-d.
So, I ask you. Is this new social media world SOCIAL? Or is it anti-social?